Evolution may favor religious diversity, but the tail does not wag the fish.

Friday, July 29, 2005

TIKKUN'S Michael Lerner issues call for National Conference for Progressives of Faith

"The Tikkun Community contends that it is equally valid to demand a 'New Bottom line' in which institutions get assessed as rational, efficient, and productive not only to the extent that they maximize money and power but also to the extent that they maximize love, caring, ethical and spiritual sensitivity, and enhance our capacity to respond to other human beings and to nature with awe, wonder, and radical amazement."

In July’s TIKKUN, editor Michael Lerner calls progressives of faith to a national conference held in California this month and in Washington DC in February. Citing the effective collusion of conservative politics and Right Wing ideology, Lerner joins up with "God's Politics" author and Soujourner editor Jim Wallis to challenge the relationship of Church & State, re-examine the perceived antagonism between the Left and spirituality, and to move toward better leveraging progressive faith values.
Speaking as a Catholic and a progressive, I sometimes feel out of touch with this type of movement. My faith has never been out of step with, apart from, or silenced by my politics. At the same time, I never embraced the selectivity of right wing politics fueled by what I considered to be an exclusivist or narrowly triumphalist expression of Christian faith.
I support the notion that progressives of faith ought to be able to articulate their ideas of the common good, ought to advocate for the poor and least amongst us, and ought to be able to express those convictions and vote their conscience without feeling hamstrung by secularism or a materialistic market-values society.

However, I thought this had always been the case. In another TIKKUN article, we are reminded that decades earlier TIKKUN called for a “meaning value” approach to counteract the flatness of a materialistic economic value, for example. This approach isn't to "Just say NO" to the Religious Right, or to "out-spiritualize the Religious Right" (as Karen Hanretty scoffed for We Care America).

From a political perspective, it is helpful to observe the deep tension in the Left between political position and religious persuasion. But from my perspective, this is shameful because it leaves the incorrect impression that liberals or progressives are synonymous with “godlessness.” This is not true. I saw "People of Faith for Kerry", I know Catholics to be both Democrats and Republicans. I know other people of faith who are equally devout and hold opposing political beliefs. In short, the history of memory that reminds us of “meaning values” ought to also be deep enough to avoid this simplistic divide as well. Van Jones writing for AlterNet, chimes in with a similar line of thought, reminding us that the civil rights movement came most forcefully not from secular pundits, but from the people in the pews and the churches that emptied onto the street.

God is in our midst, once again. And while I am confident of the value religion has for politics of either side, I am even more certain that chaining it to politics runs the real risk of making religion itself "godless" in its orientation.


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